Neuheisel: It's "Surprising" UCLA Players Don't Trust Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly, who has won just seven games in two seasons at UCLA, has a problem – a very big problem

Zach Gelb
June 22, 2020 - 9:24 am
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Chip Kelly’s first two seasons at UCLA have not gone according to plan. After finishing 3-9 in 2018, the Bruins went 4-8 in 2019. Now, a significant portion of UCLA’s roster has expressed distrust in Kelly and the program.

Indeed, 30 players are demanding that a “third-party health official” attend all football activities to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed. The players apparently do not trust Kelly or the program to act in their best interest.

Former UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel found this surprising.

“Well, it’s surprising because my son is on Chip’s staff, and this is the first I’ve heard that they don’t trust Chip,” Neuheisel said on The Zach Gelb Show. “That is always a concern as a head coach. When you go out and recruit and you go into living rooms and you try to put your idea of what the experience is going to be at your respective university, your goal is that they are going to have such an experience. That’s the goal. I used to articulate that when I’d sit in homes all the time.”

The players’ distrust might have something to do with the on-field product. Kelly went 46-7 at Oregon; he has won just seven games through two seasons at UCLA.

“Chip hasn’t been as successful,” Neuheisel said. “He’s only won seven games in the first two years at UCLA, and it speaks to recruiting and it speaks to youth. I know he had one of the youngest teams in college football last year. But ultimately for him to turn the corner, he’s going to have to sway those big-time football players, the student-athletes out there, to come to UCLA – and this speaks volumes if in fact the team that he’s already assembled doesn’t trust him.”

Kelly built a national power at Oregon and found success in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. But he went 6-9 in his final season in Philly, 2-14 in his only season in San Francisco, and has struggled at UCLA.

Can he become an elite coach once again?

“There’s no question in my mind Chip Kelly is a brilliant football guy – a brilliant football guy,” Neuheisel said. “Having coached against him and seeing the concepts that he employed, the up-tempo – he was kind of the first to use the up-tempo. He revolutionized up-tempo, which now everybody does. Everybody does it. I know Rich Rod and others were doing it as well, but no one was doing it as well as Chip. For Oregon to get to the precipice of a national championship – and he would tell you right now that the ACC official in that Auburn game wouldn’t let him go as fast as they wanted to go. But at the end of the day, it’s not X’s and O’s; it’s Jimmy’s and Joe’s. He’s got to recruit better at UCLA if he’s going to have anywhere close to the same kind of success that he enjoyed at Oregon.”